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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Cowshed House in Glebe, New South Wales by carterwilliamson architects

 
August 17th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: carterwilliamson architects

The old cowshed in Glebe was a surprising find; a rare opportunity to preserve some of the character and charm of this eclectic neighbourhood and one we encouraged our clients to seize when they sought our advice on purchasing the property.

The cowshed sat on a small parcel of land bounded on three sides by roads. The building was simple, essentially a long brick wall that held the urban edge of corner and street and returned to house a few bedrooms in the place of the former stalls. It was the most basic of accommodation but the shed had a worn patina of stories and was well situated, hugging the southern boundary with provision for a private, north facing courtyard.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

Our clients share a vision for gregarious family life which is reflected in their home. The spaces are truly ‘open plan’, each room connected to the others and to the sunny, green courtyard that acts as a natural extension of the living spaces.

The plan of the house was kept largely as it was with the kitchen to the street corner, hidden behind the strong brick envelope and spilling over into the dining and living rooms. The kids’ bedrooms, replete with requisite hammocks, were tucked into the return of the L-shaped plan with a vivid red  bathroom at the pivot, a nod to our client’s proud Venezuelan heritage.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

By expanding the width of the building from three to four metres and locating the bedroom mezzanine above the kitchen, the urban edge of the street was held by a tall forward element much like the bald face shop fronts at the end of a row of terraces; a good urban response which marks corner buildings as distinctive landmarks in an urban streetscape.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

The cowshed sits under a big jacaranda tree whose leaves and blooms blocked the valley gutters and flooded the existing house when it rained. In response, a long steep roof plane was pulled up and over the second storey bedroom and tucked down at the rear of the site, designed to prevent accumulating organic matter and giving the building it’s distinctive profile.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

A ribbon of high clerestory windows that capture light and breeze, wrap the building and climb upwards with the roofline allowing the home to feel bright but private, despite it’s dense urban context.

Wherever possible the existing building fabric of the original cowshed was preserved, but sadly much was structurally unsound. What was rebuilt carries the spirit of the cowshed, composed from a palette of simple, robust materials that simultaneously address the restraints of the tight budget; concrete slabs were polished as flooring, recycled bricks left as face for the internal walls and the timber structure exposed. Oiled timber doors and windows and corrugated cladding hint at the Australian pastural vernacular now all but forgotten in this rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

Cowshed House- 200

The old cowshed in Glebe provided a rare opportunity to preserve some of the character and charm of this eclectic neighborhood.

The shed was simple, essentially a long brick wall that held the urban edge of corner and street and returned to house a few bedrooms in the place of the former stalls. It was the most basic of accommodation but was was well situated, hugging the southern boundary with provision for a private, north facing courtyard.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

Our clients share a vision for gregarious family life which is reflected in their new home. The spaces are truly ‘open plan’, each room connected to the others and to the sunny, green courtyard that acts as a natural extension of the living spaces.

Wherever possible the fabric of the original cowshed was preserved, but sadly much was structurally unsound. What was rebuilt carries the spirit of the cowshed, composed from a palette of simple, robust materials; concrete slabs polished as flooring, recycled bricks left as face for the internal walls and the timber structure exposed. Oiled timber doors and windows and corrugated cladding hint at the Australian pastural vernacular now all but forgotten in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

Cowshed House- Sustainable 150

As architects  we are convinced that the biggest contribution we can make towards a sustainable built environment is the design and inhabitation of ‘fit’ buildings; buildings that are not big, but ‘big enough’ and flexible enough to accommodate changing lifestyles and that minimise spatial, material and energy wastage. The Cowshed House embodies this philosophy, it is modest in size but spatially and conceptually rich; creatively employing the materiality of a refined, robust palette of materials.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

Environmental sustainability: This home operates passively, anchored by the by the protected thermal mass of the concrete slab on ground and sheltered by high masonry walls. The building orients itself around the north facing courtyard which provides myriad opportunities for the home to breathe and affords natural lighting during the day.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

Wherever possible the existing building fabric has been retained  and where masonry reconstruction was necessary it was completed in recycled bricks.

Social sustainability:  The sensitive adaptive re-use of the existing cowshed preserves a moment in the all but forgotten pastoral history of this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

The house is conscious of it’s dense urban context and provides privacy for occupants and neighbouring buildings through the use of high clerestory windows and secluded courtyard. The two storey element hard to the corner is a good urban response which marks corner buildings as distinctive landmarks in an urban streetscape.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

Economic sustainability: The design and construction of this building operated on an incredibly tight budget. In response the building has been left ‘raw’, eliminating the cost of expensive linings and finishes. The concrete slabs were polished as flooring, recycled bricks left as face for the internal walls and the timber structure and electrical cables exposed. Oiled timber doors and windows and corrugated cladding completed the simple, refined palette.

Image Courtesy © Brett Boardman

Image Courtesy © carterwilliamson architects

Image Courtesy © carterwilliamson architects

Image Courtesy © carterwilliamson architects

Image Courtesy © carterwilliamson architects

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